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Housing Directors Celebrate Over 15 years at Britain’s Largest Housebuilder as They Share Their Journey

Directors at Barratt Developments North East that progressed from its graduate scheme celebrate over 15 years in service, as they look back at their rewarding careers with the housebuilder.

Managing Director Carl Sobolewski and Technical Director Stephen Wooldridge joined the ASPIRE Programme in the Midlands in 2007, each taking different paths and moving through the ranks before they arrived in Newcastle – the housebuilder’s original home – to take on director roles and join the board that manages the North East division.

Carl and Steve sat down to recap their journey and career highlights to date, whilst offering valuable advice to the future of the workforce, as young people all across the country prepare for the upcoming busy exam period.

Why did you want to join Barratt Developments?

Carl: “The Barratt ASPIRE Graduate Programme was the only programme I applied for as at this point I didn’t know what I wanted to do. However, I knew as soon as I started the interview process that construction was where I wanted to be. I fell into the construction industry in one sense but it has been the only industry for me ever since.”

Steve: “The quality of the ASPIRE Graduate Scheme really impressed me and I liked the opportunity to spend 12 months experiencing all six different departments. It was great having this option because it helped me to get a comprehensive grip on the business before deciding which department to specialise in.”

What different roles have you undertaken since your first role with the business?

Carl: “I joined Barratt as a Finance Graduate, which lasted two years, from which I was offered a permanent role as an Assistant Accountant in the North Midlands. I spent a year there before progressing to Regional Accountant for the East Region. From there I moved to the Northampton division to step up as Head of Finance role and within two years I took on a director role as Finance Director.

“I am originally from the North East and so when an opportunity arose to move back, I didn’t hesitate. I spent two years here as the Finance Director and in 2018 I was delighted to accept a role as Managing Director for the North East division.”

Steve: “I’ve been very fortunate to have worked across four different offices in my time with Barratt. After my initial period as a Technical Graduate with the West Midlands division, I then spent six years working with Group Technical at the beginning of the Sustainability and Innovation drive within the business.

“I then wanted to get back into a divisional role and was very fortunate to have a great relationship with the Technical Director in the Mercia office and went there as Technical Manager. Eventually the opportunity came to take a step up to Technical Director and move to the North East.”

What was your dream job when you were younger?

Carl: “I always wanted to be an automotive engineer, designing Formula 1 cars. I started out studying automotive engineering in University but switched to maths. I was always good with numbers and initially planned to be a maths teacher.”

Steve: “Either a progressional footballer or golfer. I was just lacking the necessary ability!”

What has been the highlight of your career?

Carl: “I have to say that meeting my wife has been the most impactful moment in my career. Barratt is responsible for so much more than work, but my family and beautiful daughters as well.

“I have a lot of incredible memories in the company. I am very proud of the progress I’ve made personally in my career. But NHBC Supreme award 2019, which was such a special moment for the division and me.”

Steve: “There have been several things to celebrate over my 15 years at Barratt but I think my biggest highlight is stepping up into Technical Director and taking full responsibility for the Technical function in the North East. Even better, I was able to do it alongside Carl who started on the same graduate scheme!”

What advice would you offer to other starters who are looking to step into the industry?

Carl: “Know that you have incredible support here in Barratt. We really do reward hard work and commitment. ASPIRE certainly helped set me up with a wider knowledge of the business and with exposure to opportunities. I would say being flexible has helped massively with my fast progression. If you are open to relocating and working in indifferent parts of the country, your opportunity pool will become considerably larger and you can expect to progress quicker with hard work and the right attitude.”

Steve: “I think if you can have a commitment to continuous personal improvement you will go far. Barratt is a great environment to develop, but it isn’t spoon-fed. You need to take responsibility for your own development and when you do the support and guidance you get is then second to none.

“Taking a customer-centric approach will also be very beneficial. Everything we do and all the decisions we make have to consider the customer to help ensure we deliver a home we are proud to hand over and they are proud to live in.”

The Barratt ASPIRE Graduate Scheme takes on graduates and develops them in several different disciplines, including; Finance; Technical; Construction; Land and Planning; Commercial; Sales and Marketing and Group Support. The graduate scheme begins each year in September with applications open the previous November – January.

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(L-R) Stephen Wooldridge, Technical Director and Carl Sobolewski, Managing Director at Barratt Developments North East

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